Meridian Community College is one of six community colleges in the country identified by the National Space Grant Consortia and NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) to participate in the pilot program, NASA On Campus.
NASA On Campus, a campus-based adaptation of the successful NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program, gives community college students who are focusing on STEM fields an authentic NASA experience at one of the NASA centers. NCAS encourages them to finish a two-year degree or transfer to a four-year university to pursue a NASA-related field or career.
"Meridian Community College is very pleased to participate in NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars,” said MCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner. “This will greatly benefit students, giving them a head start on careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” he said.
MCC faculty members Dr. Angie Carraway, chemistry instructor, and Valerie Bishop, biology instructor and chairman of the MCC Science and Wellness division, are now training both in-person and online to prepare their campus for a successful experience.
“I have no doubt Dr. Carraway and Mrs. Bishop will do an excellent job opening doors for community college students who want to explore opportunities and careers with NASA and other STEM-related professions. This program is a perfect fit for our commitment to academic excellence," said Dr. Huebner.
Carraway said NASA On Campus is a tremendous opportunity for community college students throughout the county by exposing and introducing them to NASA in a broader context than if students just read about NASA or even visited a
NASA center. “It also continues their training as professionals, particularly focusing on those characteristics that NASA values,” she said.
Specifically, completion of the NCAS program increases students’ chances of receiving a NASA internship and potentially increases their chances of being employed by NASA in the future, Carraway added.
For this pilot activity, participating students will enroll in a five-week online learning experience, administered by NASA and taught by faculty from their home campuses. In addition to learning about NASA research and missions, the online class opportunity will allow students to talk to NASA engineers and scientists as well as compete for a 2020 summer NASA internship program. The MCC session is set for May 29-July 3.
Students who successfully complete the online course will participate in engineering design and robotics competition designed by NASA at their campus this fall. The date for the MCC competition is Oct. 21-24. After successfully completing the program, one student from MCC will be awarded a NASA summer internship.
“NASA looks forward to making the NCAS experience accessible to a wider range of students who may have had limited ability to travel to a NASA center for the week-long event,” said Alicia Baturoni-Cortez, NCAS Activity Manager. “This pilot activity will evaluate the potential for replicating the successful NCAS experience at community college campuses throughout the nation.”
Other community colleges named to participate in NASA on Campus are Hinds Community College, Essex County Community College in New Jersey; Cerritos College and College of the Desert, California and Redlands Community College, Oklahoma.
The schools are encouraged to explore partnerships with local industry and academia engaged in NASA research and are excited for the opportunity to bring NASA to their campus.
Through MUREP's competitive awards, NASA provides financial assistance to minority-serving institutions. These institutions recruit and retain underrepresented and underserved students, including women, girls, veterans and persons with disabilities, into STEM fields.
The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholarship program began as a small effort at the Houston, Texas-based Johnson Space Center in 2007 and has since become an agency-wide effort with all NASA centers hosting events throughout the year reaching upwards of 800 students annually. Nearly 200 internships have been awarded to NCAS alumni over the years with many going on to full-time careers in the aerospace industry.
To participate in NASA On Campus, students must be at least 18 years old and be U.S. citizens. They must be enrolled in at least nine credit hours at a community college at the time they apply to the program. They do NOT have to be STEM majors. Applications for the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program can be found by going to https://go.nasa.gov/ncas The application deadline is May 15, 2019. For more information about the NCSA at MCC, email Dr. Angie Carraway, firstname.lastname@example.org